The Tabor College men’s basketball team gave top seeded Indiana Wesleyan everything it had in Saturday’s NAIA Division II national championship quarterfinal game but came up just short, 64-62.
The Bluejays narrowed what had been a seven-point first half deficit to within three, 33-30, at halftime, having shot the ball with 40 percent accuracy (12-for-30), while Indiana Wesleyan made 34 percent of its attempts (11-for-32), including 5-for-14 from three-point range (36 percent).
Julian Winton scored 13 of his game-high 23 points in the first half to lead the team, including eight of Tabor’s final 13 points of the half.
Tabor started the second half by making two of its first eight attempts from the field and turning the ball over four times. Indiana Wesleyan took advantage, bursting to a 50-35 lead with 12:43 left in the game.
But fueled by defensive intensity and effort, Tabor embarked on a furious comeback, outscoring the Wildcats, 21-5 over a 6:54 span, taking the lead, 56-55, when DeShun Patterson scored with 3:52 left in the game. Patterson led the charge with 10 points in that stretch to fuel the fire. Julian Winton added eight.
A back-and-forth battle ensued as the teams traded scores. Tabor took its final lead, 60-59, when Davaghndre Jones scored with 47 seconds left. But after that, the Bluejays were called for a foul on a three-point attempt, and the Wildcats made all three charity shots to jump in front, 62-60.
Winton drained two free-throws after that to tie the game at 62 with 27 seconds left, then the Wildcats ran time off the clock before calling timeout with 6 seconds remaining. Tabor was called for a foul with 2 seconds left, and the Wildcats made both charity shots to regain the lead. Needing to cover the length of the floor, Tabor called a pair of timeouts to draw up one final play, but the Bluejays did not get their final attempt—a miss—off before the final buzzer sounded.
Winton led all scorers with 23 points. Patterson scored 12. Tabor made 49 percent of its field goal attempts for the game (25-for-51), including a blistering 62 percent in the second half (13-for-21).
Tabor concludes the season with an overall record of 25-10.